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Report suggests that teamworking benefits primary health care

Team work between health professionals and patients is the key to the future success of primary health care, according to a new report drawn up by representatives of health professions and patients. The report, produced by the Forum on Teamworking in Primary Healthcare, presents evidence to show that teamworking provides a more responsive service to patients, who benefit more when health care professionals work together.

The report sets out 11 recommendations to assist in establishing successful primary health care teams. The recommen-
dations state that a team should

  • Recognise the patient as an essential team member
  • Establish a common, agreed purpose
  • Agree objectives and monitor progress towards them
  • Agree teamworking conditions, including a process for resolving conflict
  • Ensure that team members understand each other’s skills and knowledge
  • Recognise the importance of communication between team members
  • Ensure that the practice population understands how the team works
  • Select a team leader on the basis of leadership skills rather than status, hierarchy or availability
  • Promote teamwork across health and social care for patients who can benefit from it
  • Use evaluation of teamworking initiatives to develop practice
  • Share patient information, in accordance with legal and professional requirements.

The report sees primary care teams changing to meet the needs of patients and groups of patients in different situations. Patients with short-term or acute conditions might interact primarily with a small team consisting of receptionist, doctor and pharmacist, while patients with long-term or chronic illnesses might need a wider team including practice nurses, a physiotherapist (or other profession allied to medicine) and a social care worker, with little involvement of a doctor.
The report also sets out 20 recommendations for consideration by national organisations with a responsibility for team members. The recommendations call on the national organisations to endorse national priorities that facilitate teamworking, to encourage educational initiatives that support the teamworking approach, to promote research aimed at evaluating teamworking initiatives, and to champion teamworking as an approach to primary health care.
The Forum on Teamworking in
Primary Healthcare was established in 1999 as a joint initiative of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the British Medical Association, following discussions between the Society, the BMA, the National Pharmaceutical Association, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of General Practitioners. The forum was also supported by the British Dental Association, the Patients’ Association, the Institute of Healthcare Management, the Association of Directors of Social Services, the Association of Community Health Councils for England and Wales and the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association.
The report was drawn up by health care professionals (including doctors, pharmacists, nurses, health visitors, dentists, social services and practice managers) and patients.
Speaking at the report’s launch on October 11, the forum’s chairman (Dame Deirdre Hine, who is also chairman of the Commission for Health Improvement) said: “Getting the right health team in place is vital to the future of health care in the United Kingdom. Simply bringing groups of health care professionals and patients together is not the answer. There need to be fundamental changes to the way both professionals and patients work together.
“The Government’s plan for the NHS calls for continued professional co-operation and development and it is clear that the future of primary health care lies in the team approach. This forum has found that health professionals and the public are still unsure of their roles in such a team and it is clear that if we are to breakdown the barriers and build bridges then changes to ways of working are needed. The challenge is to establish the best teams that are equipped to deliver health care in the future.”
Copies of the 48-page report (price £10, including p&p) can be obtained from Valerie Green, Room 105, Royal Pharmaceutical Society, 1 Lambeth High Street, London SE1 7JN (tel 020 7820 3399 ext 305, fax 020 7582 3401, e-mail

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 20003483

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